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Electronic Embroidery 

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Electronic Embroidery 

Written By: Becky Stern 



Drill (1) 

Pattern (1) 

Embroidery hoop (1) 
Needlenose pliers (1) 

Download from 

craftzine. com/09/1 iaht embroidery 
Carbon paper (1) 
• Fabric (1) 

Scissors (1) 

Sternlab LED Sewinq Kit (1) 

Soldering iron (1) 

LED (2) 

On/off switch M) 

Coin cell battery (1) 

Battery holder (1) 

Conductive thread (1) 

Embroidery needle (1) 

and floss in vellow, areen, pink, and 


• Thread (1) 

any color 


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Electronic Embroidery 

I love any activity that promotes creativity and discovery. To me, tinkering with electronics 
is the same as stitching a picture, and combined they can tell a story that crafters and 
gearheads both want to hear. This picture of a frog catching fireflies is embellished with 
lights that bring the bugs to life. Conductive thread is the magic ingredient, bridging the gap 
between rigid metal and soft floss. To make a stitched scene light up, combine traditional 
embroidery techniques with a few common electronics components. The possibilities are 
endless, and the result is an artful conversation piece. 

This project has an associated CRAFT Video . 

Step 1 — Embroider the scene. 

• This project starts like any other embroidery: trace the pattern onto the fabric with carbon 
paper, then pull the fabric taut in the hoop with the design centered. 

• Backstitch along the lines of the pattern until it's complete. 

• For more instruction on how to embroider, see 101 : Embroidery in CRAFT, Volume 


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Electronic Embroidery 

Step 2 — Prepare the switch and LEDs for sewing. 

• To prep the LEDs, use pliers to bend the longer (positive) lead in a square spiral, coiling it 
toward the lens (the part that lights up). Coil the shorter (negative) lead in a circular spiral 
up toward the lens. Repeat with the other LED. 

• Prepare the switch by soldering 1 wire to each switch terminal and then coiling the ends of 
both wires. If you don't have a soldering iron, you can just sew straight through the switch 
terminal leads when it comes time to connect the switch. 

• Next, remove the stitched design from the hoop and drill a hole through both rings of the 
hoop wherever you'd like the switch to be. 

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Electronic Embroidery 

Step 3 — Sew the circuit. 

• Thread your needle with conductive thread. Hold the LED in place with one hand. Stitch 
over and around the square-coiled lead many times to make a strong mechanical and 
electrical connection. 

• Following the wiring diagram, backstitch a line to the positive battery connector. Hold the 
battery holder in place with one hand, and sew its positive (+) terminal in place with the 
other. Stitch it as you did the LED, with many stitches through the terminal's hole. 

• Without cutting the thread, backstitch a path to the other firefly LED, and sew its square- 
coiled lead as you did the first. Tie off the thread and weave it back along the stitched line, 
then cut it. This helps prevent short circuits from fraying ends. 

• Sew the circular, negative leads of the LEDs together. Be sure not to cross the positive 

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Electronic Embroidery 

Step 4 — Install the switch. 

• Center the design in the 
embroidery hoop, with the 2 holes 
aligned and the fastening hardware 
at the top (a little wiggling may be 

• Directly over the holes, poke a hole 
in the fabric with scissors or an awl 
or seam ripper. From inside the 
hoop, push the threaded post of the 
switch through the hole with a few 
turns of the wrist, then secure it on 
the outside with its nut. 

• Sew 1 lead of the switch to the 
negative conductive path (the path 
not attached to the battery), with 
many stitches for a good 

• Cut the thread. Backstitch a line 
from the other switch lead to the 
negative (-) battery connector 
terminal and sew through the hole 
in the terminal. Cut the thread. 

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Electronic Embroidery 

Step 5 — Let it glow. 

• Check your circuit against the 
diagram and watch out for fraying 
thread shorts. Set the switch to the 
Off position. Insert the battery in 
the holder, with its + side facing up. 
Turn the whole thing over and flip 
the switch. You should see the 
light! If you don't, turn it off and 
check for good connections and 

♦ Trim the fabric within 1 1/2" of the 
edge. Use regular thread and a 
running stitch to gather the edge on 
the backside. Now hang it and 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 09 . 

st generated on 2012-11-02 06:45:34 AM. 

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